It was cold. I knew it would be. The air temperature was hovering around 8 Degrees C, and I knew the water was 16. Having done an acclimatisation swim on the Friday, I was well aware of how cold it was. Yet here we were, 2600 people listening to ACDC, watching the sun rise over the Dorset coast, getting psyched up to run into the ocean.
The pebble beach wasn’t kind to cold, bare feet, but after a few strides I was in the water, as the red mist descended. I started to forget how cold it was and focused on fighting the chop. The wind was gentle, but blowing across the swim course creating a nasty chop. This made it difficult to cut through the water, though a nice distraction from the cold… Rounding the first buoy, the waves were now behind us. Swimming with the swell gave a quick chance to recover and settle the heart rate. The second buoy came up quickly, turning right and sighting for the finish line the swell was now pushing us left, away from the shortest line. I had been caught out a little too much, getting pushed off my line. Nearing the beach I had to negotiate the pebble bank, stopping the clock at 32 min and over shooting by 150m. The run in T1 was very long and the road surface was terrible. Cold feet, cold tarmac and gravel was a bad combination. I had left my bike shoes attached, but the hobble round the barriers felt excruciating.
Once onto the bike it was full speed ahead. The first climb comes through within the first 5km, so not much time to get warm before. It was not long and by the time I crested it I was feeling nice and warm. The legs were feeling good and I knew what was waiting over the nest 50km, so put the head down and hit it hard. Keeping the pace high I moved through the rollers approaching the ‘main event’. It starts after around 61km, lasts for about 2km and hurts! Yet today, it was not as serve as previous ascents. I crested the main climb, still feeling strong and pout he hammer down along the ridge line. There was only one more climb to come with 5km to go. The last 30km had a soft tail wind. The last climb came and went and I was back onto the road into Weymouth. Keeping my head down a pushed it all the way to the line. 2:28 later the bike was done, my target had been 2:30, so was very happy with the effort, this also was the 21st fasted bike split of the day and 4th fasted in my age group. I decided to keep my shoes on for T2, rather than dealing with the horrible surface again.
Running shoes on, and out we go for the laps of the Weymouth Promenade. Having learnt from last time and done many more Brick sessions, I knew the dangers of feeling ‘great’ early on in the run. My early pace was high, but I was managing it better. Keeping it in the 4:25 range and staying out of the 4:05’s. The focused helped and the pace stabilised. On lap 2 I was joined by the race leader, he was looking strong and came past with some pace. Though tempted, I resisted the urge to try and match his pace. Rounding the bottom turning point for the last time, I could feel the fatigue, but kept pushing. I could see the pace dropping off slightly, but was still in the 4:40 range. I walked the top water point and grabbed some coke and water, rounded the turn-around point and then put the hammer down for the last 3km. the pace picked back up into the 4:20’s as I headed for home. Crossing the line in 4:48. This was good enough for 8th in my age group and 54th overall.
I had achieved all the goals I set for the race, sub 2:30 bike, improved run (1:36 for the half) and earning a qualification for the 70.3 world championships. All in all a very successful day in Weymouth.
To end I wanted to share a few interesting things I learnt in from this event.
1. You can’t beat consistency. The training programme on Trainer road was tough (mid volume – Middle distance), but the consistent build up and structured taper payed off.
2. In the words of Javier Gomez – if you can’t run, don’t tri! Any day of the year, I would have been really happy with a 1:36 half marathon. On race day, this was only good enough for 172 place.
3. Don’t fall for the hype of the nutritional supplements, you can’t substitute poor training by eating a million gels and drinking 6 bottles of energy drinks. Nutrition is part of your build up. On the day I drank 400ml of Iso sports drink and ate 4 chunks of the Veloforte bars during the bike. On the run I had two mouthfuls of coke and water. Know your body and your specific needs. Use your training to find out where the limits are – they are way further than you think and most definitely further than SiS or PowerBar would have you believe!
4. Eat well, perform better – I have been experimenting with a plant based diet, cutting out all animal products, eggs and dairy. I find it is working really well for me. I have stop drinking the ‘protein’ cool-aid that is marketed to you everyday. You don’t need 30g whey protein after a training session, eating 30g of protein at each meal does… nothing. I have been freed from the nutritional debate, most of which is speculation… I have increased the variety of veggies I eat, am no longer scared of carbs (I bake my own sour dough bread) and love potatoes, the results, I have lost weight and increased my FTP over the season. Take from that what you will…
So now to put my feet up, have a beer and start fantasising about the next triathlon… Marbella 70.3 perhaps?